How to set up your wormery.
1. Choose a good site.
The worms will like somewhere that is not too exposed. A little bit of sun is ok but must not be in full summer sun or it will overheat. Also somewhere out of the wind as this will dry out the bedding. Basically a shady, sheltered spot is ideal. Your wormery must be easily accessible and convenient to visit frequently as you will be adding food often.
2. The Ground
The ground that the box sits on is not all that important as long as it does not get soggy or at all flooded. Good drainage is essential because if the worms think that their beautiful home is flooding, they will leave. You could sit it directly on the soil in your garden, make a base of blocks and/or bricks in the soil, sit it on tarmac, monoblocks or slabs. Occaisionally you may notice a black liquid coming from the base, this is perfectly normal, but may stain slabs etc. Collecting this liquid and using it as a plant food or letting it drain away into the soil is probably best.
3. Add Bedding
Once you have decide where to put your wormery, the next step is to add the bedding material which is what the worms will live in. A small quantity of bedding can be supplied but this should be topped up with your own supply to help the worms fully establish themselves. (See the section on Bedding).
4. Add Worms
Next step is to add the worms. Make a shallow trench in the bedding and place the worms in it along with some compost from the original bed then cover them over with bedding. The compost that goes in contains a lot of the organisms that help the wormery to stay healthy and become established quickly.
5. Walk Away
Now comes the difficult bit….. Lay a piece of carpet or corrugated cardboard on top of the bedding, fit the lid, walk away and leave them alone. You do not need to feed them in the first week. You do not need to go back every ten minutes to check that they are ok. You do not need to give them a prod every day to see that they are still alive. You will obviously not harm the worms if you do go back for a look and they will be perfectly happy settling in to their new home for the first week but remember not to handle the worms too often as oil on our hands is not good for their skin.
6. First Feed
After a week, you can add a small quantity of food. Something soft and appetizing would be good. See the feeding section. Not too much to begin with, build up the quantity over the weeks. The worms need a chance to finish their last meal before a lot more fresh food is added. You will eventually become quite good at judging how much food they will dispose of depending on the number of worms in your wormery.
7. Preparing for winter
To protect your compost worms from freezing temperatures, give them plenty of bedding to hide in. They can tolerate low temperatures but will die if they freeze. The best way to avoid this is to give them plenty of insulation in the form of torn or shredded paper and cardboard which will trap air inside the wormery. As air is a very good insulator, this is a very simple method of protection. In addition, layers of corrugated cardboard can be laid on top of the bedding and crumpled up newspaper can be placed down the sides next to the walls of the wormery. Always remember to replace the carpet on top to help keep things warm and dark and you can even put more carpet on top if you have it to improve insulation. This gives them the best possible chance of surviving sub-zero temperatures for days on end.